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December 29, 2004


Long-Time Equity Member Since 1953

(December 29, 2004) Jerry Orbach, a long-time Equity member and star of stage and screen, has died at the age of 69, following a bout with prostate cancer. His death was announced by his manager Robert Malcolm on 1010 WINS news radio.

The Tony Award winning actor was best known as Detective Lennie Briscoe on NBC’s LAW AND ORDER, which he appeared on for twelve seasons. Mr. Orbach won a Tony Award (Best Actor in A Musical) in 1969 in PROMISES, PROMISES, and received a Tony nomination in 1976 portraying Billy Flynn in CHICAGO. His last Broadway appearance was in 1981 as Julian Marsh in the original production of 42ND STREET.

Orbach joined Actors’ Equity in Summer Stock in 1953 (see HOW I GOT…), and moved to New York in 1955, where he understudied in THREEPENNY OPERA and eventually took over the role of Mack The Knife. In 1959, he created the role of El Gallo in the Off-Broadway production of THE FANTASTICKS and stayed with the show until 1961, when he made his Broadway debut in CARNIVAL. His next Broadway role, Skye Masterson in GUYS AND DOLLS, brought him a Tony nomination.

In the 80s and 90s, Orbach found success in film and television. Among his credits: Murder, She Wrote, The Law and Harry McGraw, Prince of the City, Dirty Dancing, Beauty and the Beast (voice of Lumiere), CHINESE with Al Pacino.

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"How I Got My Equity Card" - by Jerry here

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